Of Time and God’s faithfulness.

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Time goes on and the memories pass

It all slowly fades away, turned to dust.

A beautiful ray as fleeting as a life

Here for the moment and then suddenly

Nothing in its place, simply rest.

And yet God beholds it all. We forget, he remembers. We change, he remains.

It is not for us to hoard up the treasures of time, for we too shall pass on and those treasures, lost, cannot be kept.

But it is God who holds time and all that happens within it –

It is he who knows and he who all things glorify.

I do not have to hold onto these feeble chords of remembrance in my weak, wondering mind.

Instead I can trust God that they glorify him and that he remembers even in the midst of my forgetfulness.

Psalm 36

I have a message from God in my heart
    concerning the sinfulness of the wicked:
There is no fear of God
    before their eyes.

In their own eyes they flatter themselves
    too much to detect or hate their sin.
The words of their mouths are wicked and deceitful;
    they fail to act wisely or do good.
Even on their beds they plot evil;
    they commit themselves to a sinful course
    and do not reject what is wrong.

Your love, Lord, reaches to the heavens,
    your faithfulness to the skies.
Your righteousness is like the highest mountains,
    your justice like the great deep.
    You, Lord, preserve both people and animals.
How priceless is your unfailing love, O God!
    People take refuge in the shadow of your wings.
They feast on the abundance of your house;
    you give them drink from your river of delights.
For with you is the fountain of life;
    in your light we see light.

10 Continue your love to those who know you,
    your righteousness to the upright in heart.
11 May the foot of the proud not come against me,
    nor the hand of the wicked drive me away.
12 See how the evildoers lie fallen—
    thrown down, not able to rise!

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Voice of the Martyrs Prayer Watch

These were first from: http://www.vom.com.au

EGYPT: How Libya’s Martyrs are Witnessing

The brutal execution of 21 Christians in Libya has sparked a feeling of unity and opportunity for Egyptian Christians.

As the country mourns the loss of 21 Coptic Christians, 13 from the same village, it has provided an opportunity to testify of the faith for which these men were killed. More than 1.65 million copies of a tract inspired by the incident have been distributed in one week.

The tract contains biblical quotations about the promise of blessing amid suffering, alongside a poignant poem in colloquial Arabic:

Who fears the other?
The row in orange, watching paradise open?
Or the row in black, with minds evil and broken?
The Bible Society distributed the tract through Egypt’s churches.

Sources: International Christian Concern, Christianity Today

Prayer Points

  • Praise God for the lives of the 21 Christian men and their faithful love for Christ.
  • Continue to pray for the families of these men, may they rest in the knowledge that the Lord hears their cries and is upholding them during their time of grief.
  • Pray that the Scripture tracts created will mightily proclaim Christ’s name and draw many to Him.

SYRIA: Nineteen Assyrians Released by Islamic State, Hundreds Remain Captured

Nineteen Assyrians who were captured from the Syrian village of Tel Goran have been released by Islamic State (IS) and have arrived safely at St Mary’s Church in Hasaka, Syria.

According to the Assyrian International News Agency, negotiations for their release had been ongoing for three days and were mediated by local Arab tribal leaders.

‘Of the 19 that were released, 17 were women and 2 were men,’ said a spokesperson for AINA. But not all who were captured from Tel Goran were released. One of the hostages, an elderly woman, said that IS did not release her son and two other men who were guarding the village.

IS also refused to release a six-year-old girl. According to reports from the released hostages, Islamic State said it plans to use the girl as a bargaining chip. The girl’s mother was released but would not leave her daughter behind and stayed with her.

The spokesman told the ASSIST News Service, ‘The hostages looked tired and dishevelled but were otherwise unharmed.’

According to AINA, the number of Assyrians captured by Islamic State is between 262 and 373. According to Assyrian leaders, negotiations for the release of the remainder of the hostages are ongoing.

Sources: Assist News Service

 Prayer Points

  • Thank the Lord for the release of these hostages; pray He will help them to overcome their ordeal.
  • Pray for the many that remain; pray they will be sustained by the Lord. Ask Him to give them a peace in their heart in spite of their circumstances as well as a willingness to trust in Him completely. Pray for their protection and release.
  • Ask God to frustrate the plans of Islamic State; pray their evil schemes become their undoing. Pray many will be drawn to the Lord by the Christian witness of the captives.

SUDAN: Two South Sudanese Pastors Imprisoned

Two pastors from South Sudan, Pastor Yat Michael and Pastor Peter Yen, have been detained for over a month in undisclosed locations in Sudan without formal charges.

Pastor Michael and his wife had taken their son to Khartoum for medical attention, and the pastor was asked to give a sermon during his visit. After finishing his sermon on Sunday, 21 December, he was arrested by members of Sudan’s National Intelligence Security.

When Pastor Yen visited the Religious Affairs Office in Khartoum on 11 January to inquire about his colleague, he too was arrested. There is concern that both Pastor Michael and Pastor Yen are in danger of being tortured.

Source: Voice of the Martyrs USA

 Prayer Points

  • Please pray that the Lord would make them strong to lovingly and boldly proclaim the Gospel even while being detained. Pray they will remain steadfast (1 Peter 5:8-10).
  • Ask the Lord to grant protection to these men and their families; pray they will become more Christlike during this time of trial.
  • Pray for their release and ask the Lord to move the authorities to seek justice and mercy.

Lessons from David and Goliath

Recently I spoke to my church’s youth group from 1 Samuel 17 – the story of David and Goliath, and I found it really exciting how many parallels there are to Jesus, and some of the lessons we can draw out of that passage. I’ll start with those lessons and then look at Jesus and David.

The world loves the story of David and Goliath – most people think that it’s all about conquering you’re own giants, about being yourself in the face of fear and hardship, of overcoming hardship on your own strength.

They’re dead wrong. The whole point of the passage is that David trusts God and acts on that trust when no one else does. The whole point is that David can’t do it – but God can, and God will vindicate his name.

God makes Israel wait 40 days before he gets David to rescue them. God doesn’t promise us that he will rescue us from our struggles here and now, and he definitely doesn’t promise immediate rescue. In fact he tells us that everyone who wants to live a godly life will be persecuted (2 Tim 3:12).

God doesn’t promise to save us from depression or financial difficulty or broken relationships. He doesn’t promise to heal us of cancer or other sickness.

But he does make big promises. He promises that he works everything for the good of those who love him (Romans 8:28), and that these hardships are for our growth and to purify us (1 Peter 1, James 1:2-4). And he promises that although he may not “rescue” us from them in this life, if we trust in him then we already are rescued from them, and will be free of them in heaven (Revelations 21).

Will you trust God with you’re giants? Will you wait on his timing to save – be that in this life or through death and into his arms?

 

Here are some of the cool parallels I was talking about before:

David obeys his father. He has been told that he will be king of Israel. He has every reason to be proud and selfish and not do the low jobs that his father makes him do. But instead he obeys selflessly and humbly.

Jesus obeys his Father. Jesus is God, he has every right not to come and give his life for us, the people who have rejected him. Yet he obeyed his father to the full – even to death on a cross. He gave up his glory and humbly gave his life for us to save us. Philippians 2.

David is a good shepherd. He looks after his Fathers sheep – he makes sure that when he goes away to obey his father more fully that he provides someone else to care for the sheep.

Jesus is THE good shepherd. He looks after his Father’s sheep – us. He is the good shepherd who lays his life down for the sheep. And when he did that in obedience to his father. and when he rose again and went to heaven, he sent someone else to look after the sheep – the Holy Spirit (John 14).

David was to be a king after God’s own heart. David trusts God and obeys God fully – and his willingness (in fact eagerness) to fight Goliath shows his faith in God. Yet David did sin and stuff it up.

Jesus is THE true king after God’s own heart. He did not sin.

David conquered Goliath and saved God’s people from slavery to the Philistines

Jesus conquered sin and death when he died for us and rose again, freeing us from slavery to sin.

But Jesus did more than David, as we’ve already seen. He didn’t just fight the enemy and win. He gave his life to win the victory for us, and rose again to prove it.

Will we trust Jesus? He is the true and better giant conquerer. He is the one who crushes the serpents head. He is the saviour – will you trust in him?

He is the only one who can save us from our biggest enemies – sin, satan and death. But he does if we repent and believe and follow him. Will you?

 

Note: Another common misconception about David and Goliath – people think Goliath was a giant in temrs of “Jack and the Beanstalk” Giant. No – he was probably about 3m tall. Only about a foot taller than the tallest man recorded in the 20th century. Not all that unfeasible.